Lewy pathology in Parkinson’s disease consists of crowded organelles and lipid membranes
© KATERYNA KON/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty
A study of brain tissue from people with Parkinson’s disease, the most common age-related movement disorder, has challenged long-held assumptions about what is inside abnormal brain deposits known as Lewy bodies.
Using cutting-edge imaging techniques, a team co-led by Roche scientists discovered that Lewy bodies consist mostly of membrane fragments, fat-like substances and other debris from cellular organelles — not from fibrous sheets of the protein α-synuclein, as commonly believed.
Although the researchers saw some α-synuclein mixed in among the membranous gunk of the neuronal aggregates, the findings call into question the role of this pathogenic protein in forming Lewy bodies and contributing to neurodegeneration.
A better understanding of how α-synuclein and distorted organelles contribute to Lewy body development could point to new drug targets for Parkinson’s and related diseases.
- Nature Neuroscience 22, 1099–1109 (2019). doi: 10.1038/s41593-019-0423-2